Compared to many of the other Oscar categories, “Best Film Editing” is often a tough one to predict.  With “Best Cinematography,” “Best Art Direction,” and “Best Costume Design,” for instance, you can clearly see how each nominee demonstrated a mastery of their craft and set themselves apart from their peers.  With editing, however, aptly called “The Invisible Art” of cinema, what’s been left out is just as important as what ends up in the final cut.  The audience has no realistic way of knowing what compromises in performance the editor had to make in order to elucidate a specific plot point or which amazing shots couldn’t be used simply because they presented an inconsistency in story or character.  Even a seasoned editor, who knows better than anyone else what the editorial process involves, may not be able to recognize a brilliant feat of editing without a glimpse of what was left on the cutting room floor.  Sometimes a poorly written, haphazardly-shot mess of a story can be turned into something meaningful in the skillful hands of a top-notch editor, and similarly, a beautiful story can be butchered by an editor who doesn’t let the material find its own voice and tries to impose a style that doesn’t fit the material. (more…)


Oscar and Eddie

The A.C.E. Eddie Awards were held last night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. I would have attended if not for the $200 price tag and the fact that a tux would have set me back another Benjamin or two. Maybe once I’m rich and famous (and nominated?) I will make it an annual tradition. “Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic)” went to Christopher Rouse, A.C.E. for “The Bourne Ultimatum,” beating out “No Country for Old Men,” “Into the Wild,” and “There Will Be Blood” – all 4 of which are also up for “Best Film Editing” Oscars this weekend. You can view the complete list of nominees and winners here.

This Saturday is the Invisible Art Visible Artists panel, which I look forward to every year (this will be my third time attending). It is a free event where this year’s Oscar-nominated editors screen a scene from their films, talk about the editing process of that scene and the film as a whole, and answer questions from moderator Alan Heim (president of A.C.E.) and members of the audience. The event is always popular enough that you have to get in line extra early to make sure you get a seat, but it’s still intimate enough that you can usually squeeze in a one-on-one question or handshake with your favorite editor afterwards (Thelma Schoonmaker signed my DVD of “The Departed” last year). While I have seen aspiring professionals slipping their business card to the nominated editors, I do not recommend this approach, and I think it will get you laughed at instead of hired. Anyway, here are the details of the event; maybe I’ll see you there. (more…)